Peter Dutton: I want to provide an update in relation to a disturbance at Villawood Detention Centre overnight.
The incident has now been resolved.
Essentially there were three principal ringleaders, on the advice available to me.
They were quickly extracted from the environment and there has been activity again today. Ultimately those people have been dealt with and Serco, the provider of services and the manager within Villawood, has been able to negotiate and provide for removal of those people to other parts of the Villawood Detention Centre.
On the advice available to me, there has been no physical injury in relation to these matters. There has been some damage to property including a fire which was started within a bin so obviously there was a lot of smoke, but limited damages, I'm advised from that particular aspect of the incident.
The New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police attended the scene today, but the briefing that I have received indicated that their services were not required; that the Serco officers were able to remove these individuals.
I want to send this very clear message to people who are in detention centres across the country, that is, that we will not tolerate unlawful behaviour. People will be dealt with, with the full force of the law.
People who commit offences, whether it's assault or unlawful damage or other offences - that will not change the migration outcome for that individual.
It will bring no pressure to bear on me or on the government whatsoever. Where the police are required, where the Serco officers are required to use reasonable force, they will use that force.
We will not tolerate illegal substances at detention centres. We will not tolerate people acting outside of the law. The same rule of law should apply in detention centres as it applies to families and to other Australians throughout the community. We will enforce that law and we will not tolerate breaches of it.
So I want to send that very clear message to people at Villawood, at detention centres otherwise, we will not tolerate that behaviour and this Government will use whatever force it has available to us, under the law, to deal with those perpetrators and they will not get a positive migration outcome.
In fact they have less likelihood of getting any favourable outcomes, in some of these circumstances, than if they abided by the law and adhered to what is the expectation of all Australian people, that people conduct themselves within the rule of law.
I am happy to take any questions.
Journalist: What do you understand sparked this incident?
Peter Dutton: I don't have that advice. I am not sure if it is evident as yet.
The police are conducting investigations in relation to whether or not criminal offenses have taken place. That is an issue now for New South Wales Police and for the Australian Federal Police, if necessary, to conduct those investigations.
If people have breached the law then it will be open to the police to prosecute those people and they will be treated in exactly the same way as if anybody else had committed those alleged crimes.
Journalist: It is reported that they are not asylum seekers. Is that correct? Are they detainees for other purposes?
Peter Dutton: I am not going to go into the details of individuals. I will make this very important point and I think a lot of people have missed this. There is a legacy caseload in this country of about 31,500 people at the moment who have arrived as part of the 50,000 that came by boat under Labor.
We are working our way through that number as quickly as possible so that if we owe people a refugee outcome, we honour our commitment and honour our international obligations. If people don't have a legitimate claim then they will be repatriated back to their country of origin as quickly as possible.
I want to make this very important point and that is; within the detention centres we are seeing a hardened population because we are dealing with outlaw motorcycle gang members and other people who have committed serious offenses quite separate from the people who have come illegally by boat.
We are dealing with a toughened and hardened population and as we clamp down on those with visas who are breaking the law, who are committing serious criminal offenses, the population within our detention centres becomes more hardened and therefore more difficult to deal with and that is what we are negotiating with on a daily basis.
So that is the situation as I can best explain it, but I do think that people really need to grasp this concept that as the population reduces within the detention centres we are left with hardened criminals, with people who are awaiting removal from our shores to go back to their country of birth in circumstances where we have cancelled visas, where they may have committed armed robbery or manslaughter or other offenses of a serious nature. They are the people that we are dealing with.
Journalist: You mentioned illegal substances in what way were they involved in this?
Peter Dutton: We have conducted searches at some of the detention centres and there will be more activity into the future I can assure people of that.
We will not tolerate people acting outside the law as I mentioned before. Searches which are undertaken regularly in these facilities will continue and we will not tolerate contraband or illegal substances within facilities.
That is what the Australian public would expect, it's the law, and it's what we will enforce at every available opportunity.
Journalist: Were you happy with the way the AFP and NSW Police interacted and do the NSW Police need better access to the detention centre given whose inside?
Peter Dutton: I saw some of these reports today. My understanding from the NSW Police Commissioner and from the Australian Federal Police Commissioner is that there is a standard protocol in place and that that has been adhered to in this circumstance.
I've seen those media reports, but I'm not aware that there is any substance to them. I think that the AFP and the NSW Police work well together.
Obviously in the first instance as the managers of the centre Serco has responsibility for making sure they can negotiate where that's possible with people in the centre for a peaceful outcome. Ultimately the response elevates from there including calling on the resources of the police if necessary, and in this case I'm advised it wasn't.
Journalist: Do you think the incident could have been wrapped up quicker if police were called in to assist? It did go on for some time.
Peter Dutton: That's a judgement for people on the ground to make. There are professionals including the police who are involved in these decisions. Like any incident where there's a negotiation, if you can arrive at a negotiated peaceful outcome then that's the preferred outcome, but it does involve time and that's why these issues are protracted.
Ultimately these things are a judgement for the police and the Serco officers who have responsibility to make their best judgement in these practical situations and we rely on that advice.
Journalist: This is happening on the backdrop of industrial action at seven detention centres including Villawood, does that concern you?
Peter Dutton: No.
Journalist: So you don't think that the union and the company should knuckle down and get something sorted out? Morale is low.
Peter Dutton: Well I mean it's an issue that the company and the unions will work out I'm sure, but do I have any advice that it had anything to do with this or had any impact on this, no.
Journalist: Where are those three men now? You said that they were extracted.
Peter Dutton: They will be located elsewhere within Villawood, but they have been segregated from that area where they caused this trouble.
Journalist: Will Police be considering charges against them?
Peter Dutton: Well it's an issue for the police, but I understand that police have commenced an investigation.
Journalist: Any update on the Moss Report?
Peter Dutton: Well, the Secretary has the Moss report and as I have said he will release it in due course. As you would expect, the Department should be in a position to respond to the recommendations and advise (a) what it is they have done and (b) what it is they intent to do by way of response.
They need time to consider that. I think that's prudent in the circumstances and it will be released as soon as possible.
Journalist: Minister on one another matter. There have been reports in recent days of an Iranian refugee couple being assaulted by locals on Nauru. Have you got any information about this alleged attack?
Peter Dutton: I have seen the reports out of Nauru, in particular the reports from representatives of the Nauruan Government.
As I understand it, this related to a motor vehicle incident - an incident where people have come off their scooter or motorbike. I don't know any more than that in relation to it.
The Nauruan authorities in the media reports that I have read indicate that there was no rock throwing, but ultimately it's an issue for the Nauruan Police and Nauruan Government to comment on. That's what I have seen reported.
Journalist: Is it concerning that these incidences may be happening on an island where you are sending detainees?
Peter Dutton: I want to make sure that people respect the rule of law of Nauru as I would want Australians here to respect the rule of law here. Ultimately the Nauruan's have responsibility for the Regional Processing Centre.
They have extended a hand of friendship to people to live in their community. They have provided support in a difficult situation to many families and they believe very strongly that people should respect the Nauruan legal system and to abide by the laws.
I think any government would want that of their people or people who are within their population and I think that's a perfectly reasonable response from the Nauruan Government.
We have provided very strong support to the leadership of Nauru because of the way in which they have been able to act in a very responsible manner in our region. This is a difficult situation that they are dealing with. The most important thing though, if I can add this, we should not allow the boats to restart.
Tanya Plibersek at the weekend saying that she would rip out the heart of what's been most effective within Operation Sovereign Borders, that is the turn-backs where it is safe to do so, would mean that the boats would flow again under Bill Shorten.
Bill Shorten has shown no leadership at all on this issue, has provided no public response whatsoever. He remains absolutely mute when it comes to boats policy and yet Labor has had 13 different policies since 2007. Tanya Plibersek just explained the most recent one, but Bill Shorten's nowhere to be seen.
I think he needs to answer this question because the fact that we've been able to reduce the number of children from 1,992 in detention centres under Labor down to a number closer to a hundred during the course of our period of Government is something that we are proud of, but it's also very important to realise that if the boats come again those places will be filled by children and adults in the detention centres and that is not an outcome that anybody wants.
Journalist: There are allegations the Nauruans turned on some Iranian refugees who were on the island, are you not putting potential refugees at risk by sending them to the Nauruan detention centre?
Peter Dutton: I just don't have any opportunity to test those claims. The Nauruan authorities have said that they dispute the allegations that have been made.
They're in the position presumably to gather the best advice and that's been their response. I am happy to rely on the advice that the authorities have provided.
But it really, as I say, it's an issue for the Nauruan Police to comment on or the officials otherwise within their Government.
Journalist: Any update on when we could be seeing refugees heading to Cambodia?
Peter Dutton: To Cambodia? Well I had a very successful visit to Cambodia a week ago. We will welcome to Australia the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia fairly shortly and there will be a further discussions because we believe there is an opportunity for between three to five families, in an initial wave of people, to leave Nauru to go to Cambodia.
I had a productive meeting with the IOM in Cambodia to talk about the services and the support mechanisms that will be in place for the people as they move to Cambodia.
There will be a great opportunity for people, in particular with an entrepreneurial spirit, that are on Nauru at the moment that may have come from a small business background to go to Cambodia because there is opportunity for them there to make a new start.
But again I repeat this very strong message that people on Nauru will not be coming to Australia. They will not be coming to Australia under any circumstance.
We have put in place a very important policy which has stopped the boats and we are not about to go down Labor's path in restarting the boats.
We want to provide support and resettlement services to people that might find a new start in life in Cambodia and we are obviously talking to other neighbours within the region, as well, about what opportunities there might be there to have permanent settlement arrangements in place in those nations.
That is the response that the Government has been consistent on, and as I say it's very hard to know what Labor's position would be because they've had 13 different positions over the course of the last few years.
Journalist: Just quickly back to Villawood, you say the situation is resolved, what's happened to the other people that were involved, you took out the three main ones, but what about the others?
Peter Dutton: Well again those other people would have been moved to different parts of the centre and they would have been moved from the area where the incident took place: a) so that their safety and the safety of others has been ensured and (b) so that the police can start their investigation.
So they will be in other parts of Villawood, but they will be segregated from others, and again, we are just not going to tolerate this sort of behaviour.
Journalist: What do you believe would be the Government's chances if the Prime Minister called a double dissolution election?
Peter Dutton: We're due to go to an election in the second half of next year and that's the timetable that we are working towards.
I don't think anybody ever pretended that cleaning up Labor's mess would be easy or that it could be done in the first Budget or first year of government.
The fact is that the debt that they have racked up, the way in which they have insulted the Australian people is quite breathtaking and the fact that they're now opposed to their own savings measures says to you that they are not serious about dealing with the economic situation – the ageing of the population or the future costs that will come in years ahead.
This is a tough job and the Government has taken a responsible approach in cleaning up Labor's mess, but it will take time.
The election is due in the second half of 2016 and that's the timetable that we are all working towards.
Journalist: Is the Government threatening the crossbench with this consideration?
Peter Dutton: No. Thanks very much.